Found this very interesting post about China and learning Chinese by Martin Jacques for the BBC on Friday.
So convinced is Jacques of the importance of learning Chinese that his son started Chinese lessons aged 5. Jacques puts forward an idea of China as a civilisation-state, rather than the European idea of nation-states.
In 1997 Hong Kong was promised “one country two systems” which many Western observers were cynical about, expecting China simply to absorb Hong Kong in the way that West Germany absorbed East Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The reason why this did not happen is that China has held together over 2,000 years by embracing the idea of one country, many systems – a common civilisation, but run locally in different ways. Misunderstandings like this are common when the West looks at China, says Jacques.
Jacques warns that we have to learn more about the Chinese language and culture or “we will find ourselves increasingly unfamiliar with a China-centric world and feel more and more like outsiders. That’s exactly what happened to China, to its huge cost, after 1800 with the rise of the West”.
At la Academia we are very aware of the importance of learning about China and the Chinese language. It is one of our core languages, and we would encourage everyone with an interest in world affairs, business and politics, as well as language students, to spend some time learning Chinese. Contact us for more information on how to get started!